Gateway Country Connections
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

Gateway Country Connections

Paul Holmes


Gateway, Inc. retained Stoorza Communications in February 2000 to develop and manage a national, grassroots public relations campaign using the services of top-flight public relations practitioners in 20 of Gateway’s key markets.  Stoorza identified the professionals in each market and named the network the “Gateway Country Connection.”  The Connection members act as Stoorza representatives in their local areas, implementing marketing communications programs developed by Stoorza and

Gateway, Inc.  

To most effectively manage communications among such a large and geographically diverse group of agencies, Stoorza recommended the development of a Connection “members only” extranet.  Its goal would be to foster relationships among agencies to share best practices and/or challenges and enhance communications with Stoorza and Gateway management.

Stoorza proposed developing an interactive site that would be consistent in design and layout to Gateway’s public site,, and password-protected to ensure the confidentiality of Gateway’s proprietary information.  We also proposed developing it with technology that would enable Stoorza to quickly and easily update the site, ensuring that the information was always current.


Stoorza developed a request for proposal (RFP) and circulated it to leading web development companies in Southern California.  After reviewing proposals from four firms, Stoorza selected 

Los Angeles-based Bold New World.

Prior to developing the site map, Stoorza developed a survey for Connection members (enclosed) to help us determine what would be of greatest interest to them, how they would best benefit from the extranet, what would encourage their frequent use of it, etc.

It became evident, through the survey results, that Connection members were especially interested in “connecting” with each other and developing relationships with their partner agencies across the country.  To facilitate this interaction, Stoorza developed a brief questionnaire to solicit fun facts about each agency and its staff.  A section of the site was developed to feature this information.


As we planned the development of the extranet, we worked with Gateway to clearly establish objectives for the site—objectives that would ensure the extranet was a communications tool that added value to the Gateway Country Connection yet were within our tight budget of $30,000.  The objectives included:

  • Provide a forum to share successes, challenges and best practices
  • Recognize Connection members who have done outstanding work
  • Share news coverage, research and corporate background information 
  • Encourage the development of creative news angles to promote Gateway in local media, consistent with established messages, as a technology authority/innovator
  • Provide local competitive intelligence

Armed with the results of the Connection survey and keeping in mind the aforementioned objectives, Stoorza worked with Bold New World to develop a site map and determine the back-end technology necessary to include the following features:

  • Administrative tools for content creation and management
  • Membership system allowing Connection members to register for access
  • Administrative tools for adding/editing/removing offering information
  • Single topic Bulletin Board
  • Administrative tracking of members' asset downloads
  • Secured server (encryption of data)

Based on our research and to accomplish our stated goals and objectives, Stoorza established the following site buttons:

  • About Gateway
  • Gateway Country Connection
  • About Gateway's Market
  • Connector of the Month
  • News
  • Ideas & Results
  • Other topics as necessary

To manage development of the site, Stoorza also drafted a timeline of projects/events, created an area for placements and forum topics to stimulate thinking across the nation.  



To launch the site, Stoorza created and distributed to Connection members a detailed e-mail describing its features and benefits.  The same day they received the e-mail, they received a Gateway polo shirt and participated in a teleconference in which we announced the URL, http:/  The launch was met with great excitement and participation and has proven integral to the success of our campaign.

Stoorza continues to manage the Connection and the extranet by frequently updating the site with news releases and Gateway news coverage as well as relevant research, monthly teleconference agendas and minutes and by developing interactive forums regarding public relations opportunities.


The extranet has proven to be an invaluable tool for the Gateway Country Connection and has been integral to Stoorza’s success with the network.   Six months after the launch we researched its effectiveness and received universally favorable comments from Connection members, especially in regard to how easily the extranet facilitates information and idea sharing among agencies. 

One quantifiable measure of success is its frequent use by members.  As of December 1, 2000, all Connection members were visiting the site on average twice a week.  The Connection members continue to share best practices for launches and projects across the nation, resulting in more than 20 million media impressions each month for Gateway Country.

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